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This becomes the launching point for their mile, four-day religious journey to the shrine of St.
Great blessing and forgiveness were to be heaped upon those who made the pilgrimage; relics of the saint were enshrined there, and miracles had been reported by those who prayed before the shrine.
Chaucer's pilgrims, however, are not all traveling for religious reasons. Many of them simply enjoy social contact or the adventure of travel. As the travelers are becoming acquainted, their Host, the innkeeper Harry Bailley, decides to join them.
He suggests that they pass the time along the way by telling stories. Each pilgrim is to tell four stories—two on the way to Canterbury, and two on the return trip—a total of stories.
He will furnish dinner at the end of the trip to the one who tells the best tale. Chaucer, the Narrator, observes all of the characters as they are arriving and getting acquainted.
He describes in detail most of the travelers which represent a cross-section of fourteenth-century English society. All levels are represented, beginning with the Knight who is the highest ranking character socially.
Several levels of holiness and authority in the clergy are among the pilgrims while the majority of the characters are drawn from the middle class.
A small number of the peasant class are also making the journey, most of them as servants to other pilgrims. As the travelers begin their journey the next morning, they draw straws to see who will tell the first tale.
The Knight draws the shortest straw. He begins the storytelling with a long romantic epic about two brave young knights who both fall in love with the same woman and who spend years attempting to win her love.
Everyone enjoys the tale and they agree that the trip is off to an excellent start. When the Host invites the Monk to tell a story to match the Knight's, the Miller, who is drunk, becomes so rude and insistent that he be allowed to go next that the Host allows it.
The Miller's tale is indeed very funny, involving several tricks and a very dirty prank as a young wife conspires with her lover to make love to him right under her husband's nose. The Miller's fabliau upsets the Reeve because it involves an aging carpenter being cuckolded by his young wife, and the Reeve himself is aging and was formerly a carpenter.
Insulted by the Miller, the Reeve retaliates with a tale about a miller who is made a fool of in very much the same manner as the carpenter in the preceding rendition.
After the Reeve, the Cook speaks up and begins to tell another humorous adventure about a thieving, womanizing young apprentice. Chaucer did not finish writing this story; it stops almost at the beginning. When the dialogue among the travelers resumes, the morning is half gone and the Host, Harry Bailley, urges the Man of Law to begin his entry quickly.
Being a lawyer, the Man of Law is very long-winded and relates a very long story about the life of a noblewoman named Constance who suffers patiently and virtuouly through a great many terrible trials. In the end she is rewarded for her perseverence.
The Man of Law's recital, though lengthy, has pleased the other pilgrims very much. Harry Bailley then calls upon the Parson to tell a similar tale of goodness; but the Shipman, who wants to hear no more sermonizing, says he will take his turn next and will tell a merry story without a hint of preaching.
Indeed, his story involves a lovely wife who cuckolds her husband to get money for a new dress and gets away with the whole affair. Evidently looking for contrast in subject matter, the Host next invites the Prioress to give them a story.
Graciously, she relates a short legend about a little schoolboy who is martyred and through whose death a miracle takes place.
After hearing this miraculous narrative, all of the travelers become very subdued, so the Host calls upon the Narrator Chaucer to liven things up. Slyly making fun of the Host's literary pretensions, Chaucer recites a brilliant parody on knighthood composed in low rhyme.
Harry hates Chaucer's poem and interrupts to complain; again in jest, Chaucer tells a long, boring version of an ancient myth. However, the Host is very impressed by the serious moral tone of this inferior tale and is hightly complimentary. Since the myth just told involved a wise and patient wife, Harry Bailley takes this opportunity to criticize his own shrewish wife.
He then digresses further with a brief commentary on monks which leads him to call upon the pilgrim Monk for his contribution to the entertainment. The Monk belies his fun-loving appearance by giving a disappointing recital about famous figures who are brought low by fate. The Monk's subject is so dreary that the Knight stops him, and the Host berates him for lowering the morale of the party.
When the Monk refuses to change his tone, the Nun's Priest accepts the Host's request for a happier tale.Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Plot Summary. Learn more about The Canterbury Tales with a detailed plot summary and plot diagram.
The Canterbury Tales is the last of Geoffrey Chaucer's works, and he only finished 24 of an initially planned tales. The Canterbury Tales study guide contains a biography of Geoffrey Chaucer, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer by is comprised of 24 tales, including prologues for most of the characters’ stories. Some notable works are “The Knight’s Tale”, “The Miller’s Tale”, and “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue”.
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories by Geoffrey Chaucer that was first published in The Canterbury Tales A woodcut from William Caxton's second edition of The Canterbury Tales printed in Author Geoffrey Chaucer Original title Tales of Caunterbury Country England Language Middle English Publication date Text The Canterbury Tales at Wikisource The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17, lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey.
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest Christian churches in England and it continues to play a central role in English Christianity. Originally founded in AD by St.
Augustine, it still functions as the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.